Colts 45, Packers 31
Brett Favre passed the Indianapolis Colts dizzy on Sunday, throwing for 358 yards and four touchdowns -- and lost his quarterback duel with Peyton Manning, who carried the Colts to a 45-31 triumph over Favre's Green Bay Packers at RCA Dome.
Manning threw for five touchdowns, all in the first half, and finished with 393 passing yards to prevail in what is likely to be his final career meeting with Favre, barring a Super Bowl matchup. This was exactly what the NFL's leaders had in mind when they tried to open up the passing game by ordering a crackdown in the offseason on defensive clutching-and-grabbing tactics. It was the sort of game that only a defensive player -- or a running back -- didn't enjoy.
"It was kind of boring to me," Colts tailback Edgerrin James said.
Not many onlookers shared that view, as Manning had his third career regular season game with five or more touchdown passes and Favre nearly matched him throw for throw until exiting the game after being kicked in the left hamstring during the Packers' second-to-last possession. Doug Pederson replaced him and threw a final-minute interception.
Favre was limping and had his left leg wrapped after the game. His status likely will be determined in the coming days, but he said he expects to be in the lineup next Sunday against the New York Giants. He has made 192 consecutive regular season starts, a league record for a quarterback.
"The doctors were concerned it may have popped, but I don't think so," Favre said after his 30-for-44 passing day. "It doesn't feel good right now, but I think it'll be all right."
Wide receiver Javon Walker had 11 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers (1-2) but lost a fumble with just over six minutes left in the game. James sealed the outcome with a one-yard touchdown run with 1 minute 49 seconds to go.
"They played offensively about as good as you can play," Favre said. "We weren't too shabby. . . . We expected that type of game. I'm sure they were saying, 'We can score every time.' At one point, I thought they were. We felt the same way."
Reggie Wayne had 11 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown for the Colts, and fellow wideout Brandon Stokley had eight catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Each topped 100 receiving yards in the first half, in which Manning completed 23 of 31 passes for 320 yards as the Colts (2-1) built a 35-17 lead.
"I guess after 14-14, I said, 'Boys, we've got a little shootout today,' " said Manning, who went 28 for 41 in all. "You hope it doesn't have to be that type of game . . . . Our plan was to come out and throw it. I heard Coach [Tony] Dungy say, 'We may throw it 50 times.' I said, 'Is that right? Did you just say that?' . . . I never felt confident over there the whole time. The offense, we said, 'We've got to keep scoring.' "
On the Colts' first four possessions alone, Manning completed 18 of 25 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. The Colts threw passes on their first 22 official offensive plays -- one run by James was negated by a penalty -- and scored four touchdowns within their initial 27 plays.
"Peyton Manning is a heck of a quarterback," Packers Coach Mike Sherman said. "That offense puts up a lot of points [but] we helped them to put up more than they should have. We were part of the problem."
When these teams last faced one another in the 2001 season, Manning threw for three touchdowns and Favre passed for two in a Green Bay victory. They matched those totals Sunday within the game's opening 11 minutes.
Manning started things by capping a five-play (and five-pass) touchdown drive by putting the ball onto Wayne's chest on a post pattern for a 36-yard score. The Packers mixed in some opening-drive runs by tailback Ahman Green but turned to Favre for a tying touchdown, as he found an open Walker for a 36-yarder of his own. Manning responded with a four-pass march ending with a 28-yard touchdown connection with favorite target Marvin Harrison, but Favre struck quickly with a first-play 79-yard touchdown to Walker that victimized cornerback Nick Harper.
Manning needed eight plays his next time around. Stokley botched a would-be touchdown when Manning's perfectly thrown deep pass on the possession's first play bounced off his facemask, but eventually caught a 34-yard touchdown to end the drive. The Packers couldn't keep pace, as they punted and tried two field goals -- one successful and one not -- on their final three possessions of the first half. Manning just kept going.
The Colts handed the ball to James on their first two plays of the second quarter, but Manning quickly reasserted himself with a 27-yard touchdown strike to Stokley. In the final minute before the break, he faked a handoff on a second-down play from the Packers 1-yard line and lobbed an easy touchdown throw to reserve tailback James Mungro. But Favre found Walker -- again left uncovered -- for a 12-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to get the Packers within 35-24 and, after kicker Mike Vanderjagt's 45-yard field goal for Indianapolis, connected with fellow wideout Donald Driver for a 27-yard touchdown to narrow the deficit to 38-31 with just more than 13 minutes to play.